Oh, my daughter.
It’s the night before you birthday as I write this, and I’ve been staring at the screen trying to find the words to tell you what has happened to my heart this past year. Dad and I just put you to bed, sticking to our usual routine of him changing you and reading to you, then saying prayers as I stand outside the door and peek through the crack. I could tell he was getting choked up tonight when he kept pausing during your stories, and that all-familiar lump in my throat wouldn’t seem to disappear. He called me in, I sat in the rocking chair, and kissed your cheeks and you sleepily turned your head away. I turned off the light, and the tears came flooding down my face. Sobbing, sniffling, soaking your strawberry hair as you nursed, I blinked in the dark room while my glassy eyes adjusted. I stared in front of me, remembering this night a year ago when I labored over this chair, calling your dad in to help me carry the hospital bag. I tried to recall what I was feeling then, not knowing you yet, and it was so difficult to remember a world where your sweet laughter didn’t exist. Looking down at you tonight, feeling your heart beat so close to mine, with your warm little hand tucked under my shirt, I wanted to stay here forever. Because I knew that meant saying goodbye to the days before we measured your age in months, not years. Goodbye to so may firsts followed by so many lasts. I was mourning the loss of the incredible tiny person you were today, as tomorrow I’ll celebrate who you will be from now on, past that momentous one year mark.
Being your momma has given me a whole new type of emotion that I never knew existed, and I’m not sure there’s a word for it. So I’ll call it happy/sad. Happy that God chose dad and I to be your parents, a privilege that I can’t even wrap my mind around with a high that comes from hearing your belly laugh, so much that we strive to hear it at all costs. We can never get enough of that belly laugh, little girl. Sad because that laugh will one day change and become even harder to excavate, and will happen less frequently. Sad that the finality of every stage of your life means that you will never ____ again, and it’s all so fleeting. Tonight, I thought of how much you’ve changed in the past year. From my squeaky, fuzzy-headed newborn who closed her eyes in Heaven and opened them on Earth. To my smart, sweet, sassy one year old who blows kisses every two minutes and lives to be held on her mama’s hip. It’s just all too fast for me. The bliss of you letting me attack your lips with kisses, then the heartbreak of you pushing my face away minutes later. Happy/sad. Every day is a roller coaster of emotion, but looking back all I will remember is the pure magic that was my teeny Quinn Emilia in her first year. Your little gap between your teeth, how you point to everything and say, “Whassat??”, how you try to crawl so fast when we chase you, how your favorite song is The Ants Go Marching, and you favorite foods all start with “B” (bread, bananas, broccoli, and boobie lol). I’ll always remember you this way, Quinny. How your neck smells after a bath, our morning walks with a cookie in your hand, breakfast with your sticky peanut butter cheeks, and how whenever you see a baby you go “Shhh”…
So tonight, when I rose up from the rocking chair and stood at your crib side, I hovered a little longer than usual with your head on my shoulder and felt you slowly breath in and out. Because I never want to let this go. You will always be the one who made me a mom, who took my breath away the moment you took your first, and who fills my days with stardust and more love than I ever thought possible. The one who made me more patient, less judgmental, proud, selfless, and more caring (with a little more gray in my hair). I want to be the best I can be for you Quinn, someone you deserve to call Mom because I will never know what I did to deserve you as my daughter. You are more than we could have ever dreamed for. You are everything. Happy first birthday my sweet baby girl. I love you to the stars.